Lady Grangers ready for season

Published 2:30 pm Friday, August 4, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It was a productive summer for the LaGrange Lady Grangers, and they’re hoping the hard work they’ve put in will pay dividends over the next few months.

LaGrange will open a new softball season with a pair of games on Saturday as part of the HOPE For A Day event.

Callaway, LaGrange and Troup will play a round-robin series of games beginning at 10 a.m.

LaGrange, which is the host team, will play Callaway at 10 a.m. before finishing the day with a game against Troup at 2 p.m.

Callaway and Troup play at noon.

LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath said the players have spent a lot of time together during the summer in preparation for a new season.

“We’ve been going pretty much full speed since the summer with optional workouts,” Heath said. “We’ve had a great turnout. We’ve had at least three-fourths of all of our kids here, which allows us to work on stuff before the season.”

The summer workouts are important since there isn’t a whole lot of time between the start of preseason practice and the first game.

The first official day of preseason practice according to the Georgia High School Association calendar was Tuesday, and teams can begin playing regular-season games today.

LaGrange, in addition to the workouts at the school, attended a team camp in Columbus while also playing a handful of scrimmage games.

While Heath got to see a lot of her team during the summer, she said there are still a lot of uncertainties heading into a new season.

It’s a veteran team, with most of the players from a year ago returning, but Heath said some incoming freshmen will be pushing for playing time.

“We have a few of our incoming freshmen who will be on varsity,” Heath said. “They’ll have to play big roles this year.”

Heath said having more players vying to be in the lineup will help the program.

“We have more depth this year than we’ve had in the past, which allows for that competition to happen in practice,” Heath said. “That makes the program better. That’s exciting to see.”

Among the returning players is Hannah Karcher, who handled the bulk of the pitching duties last season.

Karcher’s role increased dramatically following the season-ending injury to pitcher McLain Skinner.

“It gave Karcher a chance to step up and be a leader, and if anything, she gave everything she had,” Heath said.

Heath said Karcher and all of the players are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.

“One thing I can say about this group, they’re committed, and they work,” Heath said. “It’s fun to watch, fun to be a part of.”

That commitment extended to the work done at the team’s softball field.

During the summer, a major renovation project took place at the field, and Heath said the players did a lot of the work.

“Our girls did a lot of this, and the parents,” Heath said. “It was definitely a group effort for sure.”